Beef Buzz News
NCBA’s Kent Bacus Discusses Product of the USA Label for Beef
Tue, 06 Jul 2021 12:32:13 CDT
Often seen in grocery stores and retail markets across America is the Product of the USA label for fresh beef. But, is it really accurate?
Kent Bacus, senior director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the Product of the USA label is not a truly accurate label.
Cattle producers are not very fond of it, and NCBA is working with industry partners to lay the ground work for significant changes.
“NCBA, for the last several years, has been investigating the concerns of our producers,” Bacus said.
He said producers see the label but still wonder what it is and if it can potentially apply to imported products.
We have investigated claims and sought examples, of which many were found across the United States, Bacus said.
Producers then brought forth policy in an effort to protect transparency and ensure claims were certified.
Bacus said NCBA has been working with attorneys and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to try to identify some solutions.
NCBA recently filed a petition with the FSIS to remove the Product of the USA label and replace it with Processed in the USA, he said.
“As it is now, any beef product that passes through an FSIS inspected facility can carry that product of the USA label, even if it’s an imported product,” Bacus said. “We think that it’s time to clarify what’s actually happened with that product, and the simple fact is it’s processed.”
Bacus said retailers may have some kickback to this proposed change, but he believes implementing a new label all together would be more beneficial and keep a trade war from potentially happening.
In order to make it happen, a two-step process must occur.
First, we must get rid of the Product of the USA label, he said.
Secondly, the Agricultural Marketing Service needs to work with producers and retailers to talk about process verified programs so that claims put on beef are accurate, he added.
Bacus said in order to do that, producers need to be compensated.
The NCBA would prefer to see the opportunity for cattle producers to have a source-verified program to then offer a claim to consumers that the product they’re buying is processed in the USA.
“We see this as a trade compliant solution,” Bacus said. “We are trying to address these concerns but also make necessary changes.”
Over the next few weeks, the FSIS is going to receive comments on the NCBA’s petition then decide from there.
Bacus believes this is going to be an ongoing issue the NCBA will lead on so that producer’s voices are heard.
“We want to make sure we have the best available options so we can capture any of that demand for origin source labels.”
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